The Maltese Falcon
My binding for Dashiell Hammett’s, The Maltese Falcon (New York and London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930) had a spirit of its own. Just when I was thinking about a design for the book, I received in the mail a thank-you calendar from the Audubon Society, in which I found a photograph of a falcon in full flight over water. That was my starting point for my design. The diamond-patterned background was taken from the original cloth cover, where it decorated the spine, worked in shades of grey on a very small scale. When I was searching for rhinestones to hide in the birds’ wings, Larry O’Shaughnessy commented, “Why rhinestones?” So I took my design to the local jeweler, who measured it for gemstones. The binding seemed to come to life. Strangely, the day after I finished it, when I walked out to the end of my driveway, there was a dead falcon at the edge of the field. She had been electrocuted on the power lines in the previous night’s thunderstorm.
I like to think that her spirit now lies in this volume.